Table of Contents


A Mysterious, Lonely Path: The Life of Francek Knez

The reclusive Slovenian alpinist Francek Knez has no car, computer or phone. Over the decades, he has completed some 5,000 international climbs, including the first ascent of Hell's Direttissima on Cerro Torre. Bernadette McDonald seeks to learn more about the sources of his unique vision.

Available Light

With the constant shifts of clouds and sun, darkness and light, the mountains as we perceive them are in perpetual flux. Photographer Emily Polar travels from the Cordillera Blanca to the Himalaya, exploring alpine landscapes on the edge of change.

Before Nightfall

In 1978 Johnny Waterman's 145-day first ascent of the Southeast Spur on Mt. Hunter (Begguya in Dena'ina) became one of the most astonishing solos in history. Thirty-seven years later, fellow New Englander Michael Wejchert examines the accumulation of stories that made Waterman's life and mysterious death an enduring part of mountain lore.

Freedom in the Hills

For decades, female alpinists have made extraordinary ascents from remote big walls to storm-swept peaks, yet their numbers have remained relatively low. Charlotte Austin explores some of the barriers of the past and the potential for the future. Silvia Vidal, Jarmila Tyrril, Pat Deavoll, Ines Papert, Jewell Lund, Lee Myoung-hee, Kei Taniguchi and Natalia Martinez share ascents and ideas that have inspired them in recent years.



Sculptor Philip Bircheff shares memories of the "Buhlites" climbing club—and how Hermann Buhl's legacy has influenced his own climbing and art.

Local Hero: Cameron M. Burns on Todd Gordon

If you've spent time at Joshua Tree, you likely met (or stayed with) the "Mayor of Joshua Tree," Todd Gordon. Cameron Burns profiles this generous teacher, family man and avid first ascensionist.

Off Belay: Creating Tomorrow's Superclimbers

Matt Samet offers six "helpful" tips for training your infant to be the next superclimber of the future. With cartoons by Tami Knight.

Sharp End: Off the Map

1953, Zanskar Himalaya: A small shadow of a woman moves slowly over a drape of white. The summit cone of Nun glows, no longer distant, its 7135-meter apex still untouched. Panes of ice lie scattered like thin glass, across drifts so soft and deep that French alpinist Claude Kogan can find nothing secure for her crampons to hold.

The Climbing Life

Tara Kramer says good-bye to her home crag. Andy Selters recalls dreams of flight. Alexis Perry collects his remembrances of climbs past. And Brendan Leonard meditates on life and death in the flatlands and the hills.

Tool Users: Realized Ultimate Reality Piton

Even in 1960, with the rudimentary gear of the era, the first fifty feet of Kat Pinnacle's unclimbed Southwest Corner seemed manageable: an overhanging crack that could be nailed in an exhausting, but relatively ordinary way. Above the first section, however, reared a thirty-five-foot, dead-vertical hairline seam. Yvon Chouinard stalled, searching for a placement.

Wired: Figures on a Landscape

For decades, Craig Fry, David Evans, Randy Vogel and Spencer Lennard have debated what really took place during the first ascent of one of the most classic routes in Joshua Tree, California. Herein, Brad Rassler examines the shadowy dance between landscape, imagination, history and memory.